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Safe Antibiotic Use
woman sneezing

Two main kinds of “bugs” can cause illness: bacteria and viruses. 

Antibiotics only kill bacteria. Illnesses caused by bacteria, like strep throat, can be treated with antibiotics.

Antibiotics have no effect against illnesses caused by viruses. 

Taking antibiotics when they’re not needed helps resistant bacteria grow. When bacteria become resistant the antibiotics that once combated them are no longer effective.

These resistant bacteria can stay in your body or spread to other people. Resistant bacteria can cause severe illnesses that are difficult and expensive to treat. Highly resistant bacteria (“superbugs”) sometimes cause infections that can’t be cured.

Using antibiotics wisely will help slow the spread of resistant bacteria. This will help keep our life-saving antibiotics effective for years to come.


Protect yourself against resistant bacteria!

check mark

Never take antibiotics to treat viral illnesses like colds or the flu. Antibiotics have no effect against viruses.

check mark When you are prescribed an antibiotic, take every dose, even if your symptoms go away. Taking part of the prescription only treats part of the infection.
check mark Never share antibiotics. These strong medications can cause dangerous side effects. They should only be used under a doctor’s care.
 check mark Wash your hands well and often. This is the best way to keep from getting sick.
 check mark Ask your doctor about pneumococcal (pneumonia) and influenza (flu) vaccinations.
 check mark If you or your child is suffering from a virus such as cold or flu consult our Upper Respiratory Treatment Guides for symptom relief.

 


Antibiotics won’t help your body fight a cold or the flu.

Following are typical illnesses with common causes:
 

Illness                                 

Virus  Bacteria   

Antibiotics Needed?

Colds and flu
blue mark 
 
No
Runny nose
blue mark 
 
No
Cough
blue mark 
 
No
Bronchitis
blue mark 
 
No
Sinus infection
blue mark 
blue mark 
Maybe
Ear infection
blue mark 
blue mark 
Maybe
Pneumonia
blue mark 
blue mark 
Usually
Strep throat
 
blue mark 
Yes




Frequently Asked Questions

  • Ear infections: English/Spanish (pdf)
    Next to a cold, an ear infection is the most common childhood disease. The good news is that ear infections don't always need antibiotics.
  • Runny noses: English/Spanish (pdf)
    A runny nose is a normal part of recovery from the common cold, and antibiotics won't usually help it clear up any faster.
  • Colds: English/Spanish (pdf)
    Are antibiotics ever needed for a cold? You might be surprised at the answer.

 


Ounce of Prevention

There are easy and practical ways to prevent getting infectious diseases that include hand washing, cleaning and disinfecting surfaces.

See these easy-to-follow, useful tips;

Ounce of Prevention Brochure


Other Internet Resources

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